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In a message dated 2/14/2003 1:24:19 PM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask] writes:

>
>
> [log in to unmask] wrote:
> >
> > The Pound issue is fascinating to me; the decision not to prosecute him, and the factors going into that, are not discussed as much as they should be, in my opinion.
> >
> >
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> The relevant points were two:
>
> 1) Pound had written the greatest poetry in English in the 20th century
> (and the subsequent decades have only confirmed that)
>
> 2) It wasn't doing anyone a lot of good to keep him in St.
> Elizabeths.
>
> Carrol

The first point was of course crucial to the decision not to prosecute.  Putting aside the judgment call on "greatest", Pound was a major and highly-influential poet, and prosecuting him would have been awkward.  But that alone should not excuse him: it is legally irrelevant, and morally it suggests an exemption to the criminal laws that is difficult (tho' perhaps not impossible) to justify.

The second point -- about the lack of purpose in keeping him at St. Liz -- wasn't a factor when the decision not to prosecute was originally made, shortly after the war.  Pound was highly eccentric and a bit loopy by most laymen's measure, but evidently was sane by the standard then governing legal competence to stand trial.  The finding to the contrary appears to have been an agreed-upon contrivance to avoid trial.

The reasons for the decision not to prosecute are tough to sort out, but appear to include not only his prominence as a literary figure, but also the ineffectiveness of his broadcasts (whether despite, or partially because of, their malignity), and the belief that two live witnesses to the same broadcast were necessary to prove a treason charge under the U.S. Constitution.  Still, if there had been a will to prosecute, it seems hard to believe this last factor could not have been overcome.

Netting it all out, the result reached seems a fair approximation of justice, but the means to reaching it were highly questionable.

Tom K